Things That Matter

Protests Erupt After Police Kill A Mexican-American Teenager In Mexico

As much of the world comes to grip with systemic racism and the role that police play in our communities, people continue to die at the hands of police.

Mexico is no stranger to police brutality and authorities acting with impunity. From the unexplained death of Giovanni Lopez, the case of Mexico’s “Missing 43” to the recent killing of a 16-year-old Mexican-American teen who was visiting his grandparents in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico is reacting to cases of police brutality with protests and action.

A 16-year-old boy from the U.S. was shot dead by police while in Mexico.

A 16-year-old Mexican-American boy, Alexander Martínez Gómez, had spent many years of his short live living on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. Now, after a run in with police in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, Alexander is dead and his family and friends are in mourning.

Details of the shooting remain unclear but, according to media reports, Alexander and a group of friends walked to a tiendita to buy sodas when he was shot at from a police car in an attack that also injured a friend.

In speaking to Reforma, a family member said: “They were in a gas station buying a soda. They started to shoot, and because these 15- and 16-year-old boys were scared, they ran. They didn’t give them the option to stop or take off their face masks. They simply started to shoot and they shot him in the head. Alexander died instantly because the police didn’t want to give him first aid.”

Local press reports said Alexander was staying with his grandparents in the town where he was shot. Relatives say he was born in North Carolina to Mexican parents.

The police have responded with a mix of regret and blame.

Credit: Manuel Ugarte / Getty Images

The city government expressed regret for the shooting on its Facebook page and said they had turned over evidence to the state investigators. However, they also tried to pass off the shooting as an accident, saying it was not carried out “in bad faith or to harm the community.”

Officials also tried to show their unwavering support for the police by using the hashtag: #TheHistoryOfThePoliceForcesSpeakForItself.

To many Mexicans, the statement was dejavú as it’s quite common for authorities in the country to blame the victims of violence for the crimes and brutality committed against them – especially by the police.

“They want to incriminate Alexander to justify the vileness of their actions,” tweeted Javier Valdivia, a native of Acatlán de Pérez Figueroa

Friends, family, and the community have come together to demand justice for Alexander.

Credit: Manuel Ugarte / Getty Images

Communities on both sides of the border demonstrated to demand justice for Alexander.

“We came in a caravan from town, with the support of all the people, who told us to keep going,” said Teodoro Martínez, the boy’s father. “We are not going to give them much time to get to the bottom of this.”

The father left North Carolina to attend his son’s funeral, but he has no visa and may not be able to return, he fears. 

In an especially emotional moment, his casket was taken to the local soccer field and placed in the penalty box area. One of his friends passed the ball, which bounced off the casket and into the goal so Martínez could score a final goal as onlookers shouted “justice.”

Alexander’s murder comes just days after police have been implicated in the murder of another man in Guadalajara.

Much like the growing movement for racial justice and inequality in the wake of George Floyd’s killing, Mexico too is seeing massive protests against police brutality.

The murder of Alexander comes just weeks after police forcibly detained Giovanni Lopez for not wearing a mask on the Guadalajara Metro. He was found dead by his family the very next day.

Subsequent protests against police violence were themselves met by further police violence. About 80 people were seized by plainclothes police officers on their way to a demonstration in the city of Guadalajara, and held for hours. The victims said they were beaten, threatened with death and eventually dumped in isolated areas.

Evidence collected by human rights groups suggested that security forces in Mexico are routinely responsible for abuse, torture and extrajudicial killings.

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One Town’s Residents Made A Citizen’s Arrest Of Their Mayor For Alleged Corruption And Shoddy Construction

Things That Matter

One Town’s Residents Made A Citizen’s Arrest Of Their Mayor For Alleged Corruption And Shoddy Construction

QUETZALLI BLANCO/AFP via Getty Images

Residents of a village in Chiapas, Mexico have become so fed up with their mayor that they decided to do something about it. Eschewing long, bureaucratic legal processes to hold him accountable, residents of a southern Chiapas town decided to hold their mayor accountable for what they said was a public works project so poorly done that it was useless.

A mayor in Chiapas was tied to a tree by his own residents for a job done badly.

Residents from eleven neighborhoods of the Chiapas town Comalapa held their mayor accountable for his inaction on a public works project. According to reports, the residents arrested Mayor Óscar Ramírez Aguilar to a tree in a public area to expose him to the rest of the town. They told the newspaper Diario de Chiapas, that they wanted to expose him for the “bad public servant” that he is and that he shouldn’t be reelected.

The townspeople say the municipal water storage cistern — whose installation they say was a campaign promise — is in such poor condition that it does not comply with water safety requirements. It currently has no water, they said, due to leaks, and the residents accuse the government of merely patching the tank — badly — to stop them.

In a video on social media, residents showed how the concrete patch job is already chipping away and easily crumbles.

“He promised us that this would be a public works project worthy of Comalapa residents, but [this tank is] a farce; the water system doesn’t work well. It’s an old problem that he should have attended to properly and should have been a priority during his administration because he came to see us in our homes with this promise, and now he doesn’t want to live up to it,” a resident told the newspaper.

But the mayor is denying what happened in a social media post.

The mayor though has a totally different version of events. After he was released, Ramírez posted a video on his official social media account to counter the residents’ version of the story.

“They did not tie me up,” he claimed. “The meeting was with 11 representatives of Comalapa neighborhoods in order to agree upon details regarding a major public project, the introduction of potable water.”

However, photographs clearly showed the mayor standing before a tree with his hands behind his back.

Three years ago, another local official suffered a similar fate after allegedly failing to deliver promised funds. He was bound to a post in the the central plaza of Comalapa.

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A Tourist Was Arrested For Illegally Climbing Up The Pyramid of Kukulkán

Culture

A Tourist Was Arrested For Illegally Climbing Up The Pyramid of Kukulkán

Jon G. Fuller / VW PICS / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

It is important to be a responsible tourist. This means following rules, acting responsibly, and not violating sacred places. That is something one tourist learned the hard way when she climbed the Pyramid of Kukulkán in Chichén Itzá.

Here’s the video of a tourist running down the steps of the Pyramid of Kukulkán.

The Pyramid of Kukulkán is one of the most iconic examples of Pre-Hispanic architecture and culture in Mesoamerica. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most visited archeological sites in Mexico. In 2017, more than 2 million visitors descended on the site.

Of course, #LadyKukulkan started to trend on Twitter.

You know that Twitter was ready to start calling out this woman for her actions. According to Yucatán Expat Life Magazine, the woman was there to honor her husband’s dying wish. The woman, identified as a tourist from Tijuana, wanted to spread her husband’s ashes on the top of the pyramid, which it seems that she did.

The video was a moment for Mexican Twitter.

Not only was she arrested by security when she descended, but the crowd was also clearly against her. Like, what was she even thinking? It isn’t like the pyramid is crawling with tourists all over it. She was the only person climbing the pyramid, which is federally owned and cared for.

The story is already sparking ideas for other people when they die.

“Me: (to my parents) Have you read about #ladykukulkan?
My Dad: Yes! (to my mom) When I die, I want you to scatter my ashes in the National Palace so they call you “Lady Palace,” sounds better, no?” wrote @hania_jh on Twitter.

READ: Mexico’s Version Of Burning Man Became A COVID-19 Super-Spreader Event Thanks To U.S. Tourists

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